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Electric Mountain Bikes 101

The Complete Guide to Score More Smiles Per Hour

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Electric Mountain Biking Basics

Electric mountain bikes have many names, such as eBikes, eMTBs, eebs, and more! For simplicity in this guide, we’ll just stick to calling them eBikes - a.k.a. the things we use to have a blast with boosted fun on mountain bike trails. There are many categories of eBikes used for urban commuting, road or gravel. Here, we'll cover the basics on eBikes designed for mountain biking. After all, eBikes are really just mountain bikes with electric motors (and a splash of excitement).

eBikes are the fastest-growing category of bikes, and people all over the world are discovering the freedom and thrill they provide. Finding the best electric mountain bike for your riding style and terrain ensures you get the most fun out of your ride. Not all eBikes are created equal so here are a few things to consider when buying one. 

The 3 Classes of eBikes

We only sell Class 1 eBikes. The other two classes of eBikes (2 or 3) are less likely to be allowed on trails. Our Class 1 eBike models provide assistance while pedaling - there are no throttles. The reason Class 1 eBikes have been widely adopted on trails worldwide is because they feel and function more like a non-motorized mountain bike. The vast majority of all Mountain eBikes are Class 1.

Learn More About Classes

Photo: Class 1 electric mountain bikes, like this Transition Relay, are pedal-assisted, meaning the motor only kicks in when the rider is pedaling. This provides a more natural, adaptable ride feel. 

Photo: This is a lithium-ion battery for an eBike. The varying sizes and capacities of these types of batteries define how far you can ride while powered, and how much assistance you’ll get when pedaling.

Full Power vs. Lightweight Battery Capacity

eBikes are powered by lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are measured in Watt Hours (Wh). The bigger the Wh, the larger the battery, and essentially the longer ride/more power you’ll get out of your ride.

eBikes come in two major categories: full power, and lighter power. Full power eBikes will be heavier due to the larger batteries. eBike batteries typically range in capacity from 320Wh to 720Wh. Some batteries are removable, which makes them convenient to swap out for extended rides, and provide more options for charging. Other bikes have batteries that can’t be removed and require charging in the bike as one fixed unit.

How to Choose

Find the Right Electric Bike

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Full-power or lightweight? Which full suspension eBike is right for you? Most brands make multiple electric mountain bikes and they’re all slightly different. Here are some questions to consider when purchasing your eBike: 

Who are you going to be riding with most often? Do they have eBikes? If so, are they full-power or lightweight? If most of your riding crew is going with a full-power eBike, you’ll likely get to enjoy more rides with them if you also buy a full-power eBike.

Ultimately, you’ll have fun on any eBike, so don’t let this be the deciding factor, but do take it into consideration.

Here's a few of our top picks for Full Power eBikes:
What kind of riding will you be doing? If you’re looking to replace shuttling with an eBike, a longer-travel, full-powered eBike is the best bet for you. If you think you’ll be doing more lower-angle rides on less steep terrain, a lightweight eBike may be a good choice. If you’re concerned about the weight penalty of a full-powered eBike, stick with the lighter-weight models.

Here's a few of our top picks for Lightweight eBikes


Range is the most common question customers have about eBikes. Determining how far you’ll be able to ride before needing to recharge is vital to planning, safety, and gaining confidence, which all contribute to you having fun on your eBike. A combination of factors from terrain to temperature contribute to an eBike’s range and how long a battery’s charge will last. These are all factors to consider when buying an electric mountain bike.

In scenario A, a lightweight person is riding in a warm climate on mellow terrain. In scenario B, a heavy person is riding in a cold climate on steep terrain.

Various Factors Affect Range



The steeper the terrain, the quicker you burn through the battery. 

Power Mode

Power Mode

Using a lower power mode with less assistance will drain less power from battery and increase the range or length of time you can ride boosted.

Rider Weight

Rider Weight

If running at the same level of power assistance, a heavier rider will get fewer miles out of a battery charge than a lighter-weight rider.

Outside Temp

Outside Temp

Extreme temperatures will have affect battery life. Batteries will have optimal performance in more temperate climates. 

Charging Habits

Charging Habits

Letting a battery sit dead for too long will decrease performance, as will leaving pullged into to charge for too long.

Photo: Removable batteries are not only common, they're super convenient for swapping out and extending range.

Alternatives for Extending Range

Some eBikes come with removable batteries, allowing riders with multiple batteries to carry a backup for extending their range. Batteries can be heavy, so if you’re considering buying a spare, be aware of the weight penalty. Range extenders are another optional add-on to ride further while powered. These smaller and typically lighter devices can fit in a water bottle cage and may add up to 50% more power to a battery, making them a great backup option for additional power. They tend to weigh less than full-sized batteries and are friendlier to distance travel. We recommend contacting your eBike’s manufacturer to learn more about range extender options for your particular model.

Running Out of Power

What happens if your battery runs out of power? There are some options, but the best protocol is to pay attention to a battery’s charge to avoid running completely out of power in the first place. This is bound to happen all of us at least once, so knowing your best route home is never a bad idea. If you run out of battery, we recommend either of the following. With a removable battery, simply take it out of the bike, toss it in your pack, and pedal the bike home without the battery. If your battery isn’t removable you are going to have to pedal the bike home with the battery. Maybe you’re lucky and your riding partner still has enough battery to give you a tow up any roads you still need to ascend. Either way, running out of battery - while not the end of the world - is humbling. It only takes one mishap to learn why you should avoid it from happening again.

Photo: Most eBikes have an easy to read display indicating how much power remains charged. The only problem is keeping an eye on it while flying on the trail.

Who Electric Mountain Bikes Are For, And Why They're Awesome

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Electric Mountain Bikes offer so many advantages that it’s tough to pin down any one reason they’re so popular. You may have an image or idea in your mind of who a typical eBiker may be, but the truth is that anyone can enjoy the benefits of an eBike. eBikes are great for those short on time, or those wanting to explore deeper into the woods. Even world class racers love them for training and recovery rides. eBikes can help those coming back from injury, or newer riders who need to build strength and confidence. Simply put, eBikes are great for any kind of rider, whether they’ve been riding for two weeks or two decades.

eBikes are great for those looking to:

Ride More With Less Time

Don’t have a ton of time but want to squeeze in a couple of quick laps? eBikes! 

Recover While Riding

Did you go super hard yesterday and just need an easy day to recover and spin out your legs? eBikes! 

Dial-in Your Favorite Trail

Are you a racer or want to get in more laps on downhill or enduro trails? Repetition is key and with an eBike you don’t have to rely on pedaling up over and over again. 

Enjoy the Up

Do you want to mess around on climbs that are challenging on a non-motorized bike? eBikes! 

Expand Riding Range

Do you want to go further into the wilderness and explore new-to-you places? eBikes! 

Ditch the Shuttle Rig

Tired of spending money on gas and shuttling? Don’t want to inhale the diesel fumes? You guessed it eBikes! 

Get Started Biking

If your bike curious but are feeling intimidated, eBikes can be a great way to get into the sport. 

Gain Accessibility

Conversely, they make it easier for people who may have long-standing injuries be able to keep riding longer. 

Some common eBike misconceptions include:

I’ll Get Soft

The only limitation for how good a workout you can get on an eBike is yourself. Pedal as hard as you want – you’ll just go further, faster!

I’ll Get Made Fun Of

With the right trail etiquette, no one is going to give you a hard time. You’d be surprised by how many riders have already made the switch to eBikes. You’ll be in good company.

I’ll Scare Riders

Other riders generally have no issue with eBikers who display common courtesy on the trail. If you approach others with a friendly heads up when you need to pass, they'll know you’re coming.

Trails Won’t Allow Access

Every year an inceasing number of trails are opening access for eBikes, and with the right bike, most trails already allow them.

Electric Mountain Bike Basics

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You got an eBike! Congrats - you must be stoked! Your world is about to get infinitely more fun. Owning an eBike opens up so many doors, provides access to big days, and will change the way you look at mountain biking. To ensure you get the most longevity out of your bike and have the best overall experience, here are a few things to keep in mind. 


First things first: charge your battery! Depending on which model of eBike you have, you can either plug your power chord directly into your bike or remove the battery and charge it off of the bike. eBike batteries do take a few hours to charge. A simple way to ensure you’re providing the right amount of charging time without keeping them plugged in is to charge them overnight and unplug them in the morning. The sweet spot for eBike batteries is between 20-80%. It’s perfectly fine to give them a full charge, but try not to let the battery run to zero too often. Check your owner’s guide for specifications on the best way to charge your bike.  

Bluetooth Pairing

Many eBikes are equipped with Bluetooth, which means once you’ve downloaded the correct app on your phone and paired with your bike, you’re able to customize your ride, power assistance, and more. Be sure to read your owner’s manual to find out if your bike has Bluetooth and to learn more about how tapping into your bike’s Bluetooth system can improve your experience. 

Your First eBike Ride

Your eBike is charged and you’re ready to ride! Get ready for a good time. Now that you’ve tinkered with the modes and different levels of assistance on your bike, consider starting on a familiar trail so you can get used to the pedal assistance. Riding an eBike hits differently! A helpful tip: pedaling at a slightly higher cadence than you’re used to will make getting up over obstacles feel easier while you’re climbing.  


Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of eBiking (or any biking) is respect. Respect trail signs. Respect other users. While it may be tempting to ride up a traditionally downhill trail, don’t. While it may be tempting to pass a slower rider on a non-motorized bike, be sure to consider their experience too. 

Obeying common courtesy helps keep the trails fun for everyone.

Get Permission to Pass

Don’t pass someone on singletrack unless you’ve asked and they’ve given the OK.

Don’t Ride Closed Trails

Trails that aren’t open to ebikes are closed for a reason. Respect that. This is up to individual land managers, but if it’s signed “No Electric Bikes,” find another place to ride.  

Pass When There’s Room

Pass when it’s safe and you have ample room to move around the rider in front. Bonus points if they don’t need to stop and pull over for you.  

Don’t Ride Up the Down

Don’t ascend on trails that most people use for descending. Consider the great quote from Jeff Goldbloom in Jurassic Park. “They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” It’s a good mantra to live by. 

Don’t Pass When Steep

If you’re on a steep section, give the rider a head of you time for things to mellow out before passing.

In other words, be cool. Be respectful. This code goes for all riders an all bikes. 

Walk Mode & Wrenching

Most eBikes are equipped with a walk mode. It’s brilliant! You’re bound to find yourself in that inevitable hike-a-bike situation at some point, so be sure to check your owner’s manual to learn how to engage walk mode. Walk mode provides a tiny bit of assistance while you push your bike up the hill. It’s incredibly helpful.   Need to work on your drive train? Whether just lubing your chain or tinkering with your derailleur, there’s one critical step you can’t forget: turn off the power. This prevents any accidents where you may mistakenly engage the motor. The last thing you want is your fingers getting mixed up with a motor. Need to work on your drive train? Whether just lubing your chain or tinkering with your derailleur, there’s one critical step you can’t forget: turn off the power. This prevents any accidents where you may mistakenly engage the motor. The last thing you want is your fingers getting mixed up with a motor. 

Bike Rack Weight Limits

If you’re planning to transport your eBike on a bike rack on your car, be sure to check the rack’s manufacturer’s specs to ensure the rack can handle the weight of your bike. Many modern racks can carry eBikes without any problem, but it’s always a good idea to ensure yours is up to the task. 

eBike Maintenance Tips

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Lubing a chain is not rocket science. It’s one of the simplest ways to help keep your bike in good working order. However, lubing an eBike chain is a different game than lubing a chain on a non-motorized bike. For non-motorized bikes, you simply pedal the chain backward and apply the lube. But on mid-drive eBikes, the cranks are decoupled from the cassette, meaning when you pedal backward the chain doesn’t move.   

Fortunately, there’s a simple little life hack that makes it easy.  
As you can see there are two ways to lube your chain. Option one: hoist the bike into a work stand, ensure the power is off, and slowly pedal the cranks forward while you apply the lube. Option two: place an Allen key into a crank bolt and once you pedal backward, the cranks will catch on the Allen key and the chain will rotate backward, similar to a non-motorized bike. It’s that easy! 

Connect With Our Friendly Experts

Buying an eBike is a big decision, but we’re here to help make you throughout the entire process. Be sure to check out all of our buying guides, ask our online chat, or stop into one of our stores for more info. Happy trails! 
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